Alvin John Rockwell

Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo County, Michigan, USA
Death 19 May 1999 (aged 90)
San Francisco, San Francisco County, California, USA
Burial Cremated
Memorial ID 107286733 · View Source
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A memorial service has been scheduled for June 20 in San Francisco for Alvin J. Rockwell. Mr. Rockwell, a prominent San Francisco lawyer who was legal adviser to the U.S. Military Government in Berlin after World War II, died May 19 at Mount Zion Hospital at the age of 90.

As legal adviser to General Lucius Clay and director of the legal division of the military government in the U.S.-occupied parts of West Germany and Berlin, he was instrumental in helping rebuild the legal system in Germany's postwar democratic government.

Working with his French and British counterparts -- and melding elements of traditional German code law and democratic principles -- he helped shape the contemporary legal structure of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Born in Kalamazoo, Mich., in 1908, Mr. Rockwell attended Albion College before moving to DePauw University, where he was student body president and graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1929.

After a graduate year at the London School of Economics, Mr. Rockwell entered Harvard Law School, where he received his J.D. degree in 1933.

He practiced law in Boston before moving to Washington in 1937. There he served in the solicitor general's office as special assistant to the U.S. attorney general and as general counsel to the National Labor Relations Board.

In September 1945, he moved to Berlin in his capacity as legal adviser to General Clay and the American forces occupying the U.S. zone of Germany and sector of Berlin.

While Mr. Rockwell was working on revamping the German legal system, the Russians withdrew from cooperation with the West as they organized their occupation zone into what was to become East Germany.

In 1948, Mr. Rockwell moved to San Francisco to become a partner in the law firm of Brobeck, Phleger and Harrison.

He was also active in San Francisco's civic affairs. He was the California representative to the Committee on Uniform State Laws, a trustee of the San Francisco Law Library, a trustee and president of the San Francisco Bar Association Foundation and president of the Harvard Law School Association of Northern California.

His calm demeanor and skills as a mediator were apparent in a dramatic incident in 1959 when, as president of the World Affairs Council of Northern California, he addressed a civic dinner honoring Nikita Khrushchev during the Russian premier's controversial and highly charged visit to the United States.

The San Francisco dinner followed Khrushchev's well-publicized pique at being denined permission to visit Disneyland.

Mr. Rockwell's speech before the council was widely credited with helping mollify Khrushchev and defuse a potentially volatile diplomatic situation.

In retirement, he remained active in his San Francisco clubs, chiefly the Bohemian and Pacific Union Clubs, as well as maintaining his membership in the Cosmos Club in Washington.

He also took an active part in DePauw University alumni affairs, as a trustee from 1958 to 1980, a lifetime trustee from 1980 and the recipient of an honorary LL.D. degree in 1991.

He is survived by his son, John Rockwell, of New York, a sister, Gladys Osborne of Delray Beach, Fla., and granddaughter, Sasha Rockwell, of New York.

His wife of 50 years, Anna Hayward Rockwell, died in 1983.

The memorial service is planned for June 20 at 4:30 p.m. at the First Unitarian Universalist Church, Franklin and Geary streets in San Francisco.

Contributions in Mr. Rockwell's memory may be made to De Pauw University, 313 South Locust St., Greencastle, Ind. 46135, or Harvard Law School, 1563 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, Mass. 02138.

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  • Created by: M.L. Devall
  • Added: 25 Mar 2013
  • Find A Grave Memorial 107286733
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Alvin John Rockwell (29 Dec 1908–19 May 1999), Find A Grave Memorial no. 107286733, ; Maintained by M.L. Devall (contributor 46977463) Cremated.